Yass Courthouse and Grounds | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Yass Courthouse and Grounds

Item details

Name of item: Yass Courthouse and Grounds
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Courthouse
Primary address: Comur Street (Cnr Rossi Street), Yass, NSW 2582
Local govt. area: Yass Valley
Hectares (approx): 0.02
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Comur Street (Cnr Rossi Street)YassYass Valley  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Attorney General's DepartmentState Government 

Statement of significance:

Yass Courthouse has been associated with the provision of law and justice in the town since 1880 and was the second courthouse built in the town, which has been an important centre for administration and justice in the region since 1836. The laying of the foundation stone for the courthouse was a major event, attended by the Premier at the time, JS Farrell, as well as the Minister for Public Works, J Sulterland and the Attorney General JS Foster. The size and extravagance of the courthouse demonstrates the wealth and importance of Yass during the nineteenth century.

Yass Courthouse in an impressive example of the Victorian Free Classical style and an outstanding, representative example of courthouses designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet. The courthouse, which is located on a prominent corner site, is a landmark building in Yass.
Date significance updated: 26 Jun 02
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: J Barnet
Construction years: 1878-1880
Physical description: Yass Courthouse is a grand and impressive public building. Designed in the Victorian Free Classical style, the building has a central courtroom flanked by single storey wings. The building is enclosed with an arched colonnade liberally decorated with Italianate motifs including a pedimented gable supported on a columned portico entrance and balustraded parapets. (Schwager Brooks 1993)
The courthouse is raised above the street level and set in landscaped grounds.
Other accommodation: CLC office, general office, Judges chambers, staff, Magistrates chamber, jury room, legal room, Crown prosecutors room.
Construction: Yass Courthouse is constructed in rendered brick.
Exterior materials: Rendered brick.
Date condition updated:19 Oct 10
Modifications and dates: Upper gallery added to courtroom. (1882)
Restoration and alterations, including new rooms at the rear of the building. (1976-1980)
Current use: Courthouse
Former use: Courthouse

History

Historical notes: Yass Courthouse was designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet and opened in 1880.

The first courthouse at Yass was designed by Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis and built in 1836. Courts of Petty Sessions were held at Yass from this date. The first Yass District Court was held in 1839 and the first Court of Quarter Sessions in 1859.

The need for a larger courthouse was pursued for a number of years, resulting in the construction of the present courthouse. The laying of the foundation stone in 1878 was attended by the Premier, JS Farrell, the Minister for Public Works, J Sulterland, the Colonial Architect, James Barnet and the Attorney General JS Foster. The new courthouse was reported to be the most handsome and convenient building of the sort in the colony. Prisoners were conveyed to the dock by an underground passage, entered from a small yard close to the gaol building. The cost of the new courthouse was in excess of £15,000. The public gallery was added to the courtroom in 1882. Questions were asked as to the construction of such a grand building in Yass. Part of this may relate to the fact that the local member at the time was not only in government, but was also Colonial Secretary.

The courthouse was a venue for balls and special lunches, public and political meetings, church services and official visits by visiting dignitaries, as well as a distribution centre for the allocation of blankets to local aborigines every Queen's birthday. Improper use of courthouses clearly became a concern as a circular from the Department of Justice in 1880 intimated that the custom of allowing the use of courthouses for various purposes other than those intended was to discontinue.

An extensive program of repairs, renovations and additions was completed in 1980 at a cost of $134,000. The works included a new roof, enclosing the courtyards for additional accommodation and installing carpet and landscaping.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages -
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Administration of justice-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. -
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities -
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences -
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Members of Parliament-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups -

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Yass Courthouse has been associated with the provision of law and justice in the town since 1880. The extant building is the second courthouse built in the town, which has been an important centre for administration and justice in the region since 1836. The laying of the foundation stone for the courthouse was a major event, attended by the Premier at the time, JS Farrell, as well as the Minister for Public Works, J Sulterland and the Attorney General JS Foster.

The imposing form of Yass Courthouse is symbolic of the approach to the provision of law and justice in the nineteenth century, when courthouses were designed to impart the authority and power of the Colonial government and justice system. The size and extravagance of the courthouse demonstrates the wealth and importance of Yass during the nineteenth century, though the building was remarked upon when built, as it was a much larger building than the town required.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Yass Courthouse is associated with James Barnet, Colonial Architect of New South Wales from 1862-1890.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The courthouse at Yass in an outstanding example of the Victorian Free Classical style. The courthouse is a landmark building in Yass and is raised above street level on a prominent corner site in town. The building has a number of outstanding features, including a fine courtroom with a timber coffered ceiling and public gallery and external walls liberally decorated with Italianate motifs. The front façade features a pedimented gable supported on a columned portico entrance and balustraded parapets. The courthouse is set in formal, landscaped grounds.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Yass Courthouse is likely to have significance for the local community as a long-standing civic institution of the town. The courthouse has served as accommodation for a range of community events throughout its history.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Yass Courthouse is an outstanding, representative example of courthouses designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet and displays the principal characteristics of his standard courthouse plan, with a grand double-height central court room and single storey wings on either side.
Integrity/Intactness: Highly intact externally and moderately intact internally with a high level of integrity overall.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenSchwager Brooks and Partners Pty Ltd1993Department of Courts Administration: Preliminary Heritage and Conservation Register

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 3080136


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